Quartz Daily Brief—Europe Edition—Aussie budget, icy agreement, Cameron’s woes, Dan Brown’s hell

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What to watch for today

Australians hear what the next year has in store. Treasurer Wayne Swan will deliver the annual budget today. Even though it’s the last one before elections, he probably won’t fill it full of goodies. Fortunately, some people are upbeat.

And oil markets for the next five. How do you forecast half a decade in a market that changes as fast as oil? Ask the International Energy Agency, which releases its report today.

Circular reasoning in Sweden. The Arctic Council meets in Sweden to ratify plans for dealing with the impacts of oil exploration in the polar region, and to consider letting China into the club.

The EU’s economic temperature. German think-tank ZEW will release its survey of economic sentiment in the euro zone, which, along with the latest inflation data, should give the markets a take on the prospects for the EU and its largest economy. Expectations? Low.

The winner of a date with Apple’s CEO? Today is the last day to bid on an auction for a coffee with Tim Cook, to benefit a human-rights charity, currently going at $605,000.

Lots of reviews mocking poor old Dan Brown. Inferno, the new book from the renowned author of the Da Vinci Code, is out today.

While you were sleeping

David Cameron’s sneaky scheme over EU membership. The British prime minister agreed to support draft legislation for an in/out referendum on the UK’s membership of the EU in 2017. But he has a plan for keeping Britain in.

Some clothing companies failed to agree to tougher safety standards. The deadly factory collapse in Bangladesh wasn’t enough of an incentive to some companies, like The Gap, to agree to new health and safety norms. Others that weren’t involved, like H&M and Inditex, signed up to fund repairs at the facilities in their supply chain.

Tata Steel announced a $1.6 billion write-down.  The Indian conglomerate may want to turn its focus back to home markets considering its woes with Corus, a European subsidiary.

Tough times continued for Bloomberg. After the company’s reporters got called out for using its proprietary data terminals to snoop on bank employees, the FT found more than 10,000 supposedly private messages sent between the terminals freely available online.

Indian pharma firm paid $500 million for making unsafe drugs. Ranbaxy, an Indian drugmaker majority-owned by Japan’s Daiichi Sankyo, pleaded guilty to felony counts and settled an investigation into its manufacturing procedures by the US Department of Justice.

Quartz obsession interlude

Lily Kuo on the growing importance of the Straits of Malacca. ”China’s $2.5 billion pipeline project is only one of several attempts to resolve what Chinese officials and energy security analysts have called the ‘Malacca dilemma.’ The straits, a 1.5 nautical-mile wide sea lane near Singapore, are considered the second largest ‘global choke point’ after the Straits of Hormuz in the Middle East. And the Straits are about to get even more crowded.” Read more here.

Matters of debate

Don’t label gene-altered foods. There’s no evidence that they are a health risk.

Argentina’s government gets into the black market for dollars. It’s not the best foreign-exchange strategy 

Is Tesla making green cars or status symbols for the wealthy? Either way, it’s making money.

What would you do with the power of the 500 fastest supercomputers? Please don’t say “mine bitcoin.

Surprising discoveries

Cursing helps you tolerate pain. Just stick your hands in some ice water and start swearing.

A math problem so hard even mathematicians don’t understand the solution. Has the ABC conjecture really been solved?

How American crooner Bing Crosby and the Nazis launched Silicon Valley. Makes sense to us.

The African diaspora in China. They came to buy goods cheap, but now they are staying to run businesses and get married.

Some good reasons to eat insects. None of them has to do with the taste, but you probably ate half a kilo last year anyway.

Our best wishes for a productive day. Please send any news, comments, bug recipes, and theories of inter-universal geometry to You can follow us on Twitter here for updates during the day.

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